For Le Corbusier, true, great architecture – meaning, architecture motivated by the quest for efficiency – was more likely to be found in a 40,000-kilowatt electricity turbine or a low-pressure ventilating fan. It was to these machines that his books accorded the reverential photographs which previous architectural writers had reserved for cathedrals and opera houses.
Museums are designed – and public museums are mandated – to act as the stewards of the nation’s or a city’s heritage. The New York Public Library failed dismally in this respect, a failure only eclipsed by the National Gallery, which quite frankly is serving as the bagman for the theft of public art treasures from New York City and Philadelphia.
The overall sensation evoked by examining the works on display in “Cezanne to Picasso,” however, is one of awe at his grasp and appreciation of the creative talent of artists spurned, at least initially, by the rest of the art world.
So many amateur painters have painted the swelling volumes of the church of San Francisco de Asis at Ranchos de Taos, and so many tourists have admired the blue skies and bold colors of northern New Mexico that these things threaten to become visual clichés. One of the virtues of this show’s wealth of katsina images is that they not only highlight what made O’Keeffe’s work distinctive, they also remind us of her place in the larger narrative of twentieth-century American art.
The Pre-Raphaelites shared several treasured ideals, but their painting styles varied greatly. The two transcendent themes, especially in their early work, were “truth to nature” and the power of religious faith. They aimed to depict the natural world with great fidelity, while evoking spiritual values as medieval artists had done.
Portraits at the Stock Exchange reveals a truth about the age of the Impressionists that often goes unobserved. This period in French history was an age of acute anxiety. It was far from being an era characterized by evening dances at Bougival. Repeatedly, when studying the faces of these sumptuously dressed citizens of the Belle Époque, one catches a glimpse of people acutely aware of the fragile foundations of their civilization.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City is the perfect venue for hosting great chronological exhibitions of art. Ascend the spiraling ramps and you are able to understand the course of an artistic era in its totality or the development of a national school of art, as was the case in the spectacular 2005 presentation of Russian art from its Byzantine-inspired roots to the post-Soviet present. But seldom have a museum and a special exhibition been so perfectly matched as Guggenheim New York and its present show, Picasso Black and White.
But it was at that moment that he discovered Japanese prints, rapidly assimilating all he could of a tradition of two-dimensional design defined by line and color, rather than depth and shadow. The compositions of Japanese masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige seem to have provided Van Gogh with an aesthetic framework, a way of constructing images more congenial to him than the Classical tradition of the west.
Lovers of advertising, of the internet and interactivity, of reading and the media, sit back and prepare to be amazed; you’re in capable hands here, and this is the good stuff. Graphic Design: Now in Production is a tour de force of some of the boldest graphic design work out there, ranging from 2000 to the present.